Green Bay Packers 2013 Breakout Candidate: Nick Perry
The Green Bay Packers used the 28th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on Nick Perry in an effort to add to a pass rush that had become a one-man show, with Clay Matthews and not much else of note. But injuries quickly became a factor for Perry, as he played through a left wrist injury he suffered in Week 1 and a left knee injury in Week 6 caused him to miss the following three games. Perry then had surgery to fix the wrist issue in early November, and his rookie season ended with just six games played, 18 total tackles and two sacks.
Injuries aside, the transition from college defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker was not a smooth one for Perry. He played at 265 pounds last season, and reports from OTAs suggest he has lost weight and Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy said he looked “so much smoother and athletic” than he did in 2012.
The Packers had the fourth-most sacks in the league last season (47), but no one outside of Matthews (13 sacks) had more than 4.5 quarterback takedowns. Perry showed good pass rushing ability in college (21.5 sacks in three seasons at USC), so if he could have stayed healthy last season Green Bay may have had a very nice outside pass rushing duo.
Perry should get every chance to earn the starting outside linebacker spot opposite Matthews during training camp, and frankly it would be an upset if he does not win the job. Even in a worst-case scenario Perry should see the field as a pass-rush specialist, and if he shows signs of being more than that I think he can be a very effective player for Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.